Patrick Kane scored for the third time in three games, and Corey Crawford made 24 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks got the circus trip off to a good start with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Adam Clendening scored his first ever NHL goal in his first career game, and Daniel Carcillo and Brent Seabrook each added tallies as the Hawks finally were able to put away Calgary after blowing two different leads in the game.
Early in the game the Blackhawks were dominating possession, and when the Flames committed a quick penalty Chicago made them pay. After playing catch with Marian Hossa at the point, Clendening moved further inside on the blue line, found an open shooting lane, and fired a shot past Jonas Hiller for his first career NHL goal to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
A little bit later in the period, the Hawks continued their stellar play as they extended their lead to two goals. On an aggressive forecheck, Carcillo came up with the puck near the blue line, and he quickly skated it into the zone and ripped a wrist shot past Hiller’s blocker and off the inside of the far post to make it a 2-0 game.
The Blackhawks’ lead was short-lived however, as the Flames finally found their offensive mojo with Marcus Kruger in the penalty box and cut into the lead with about six minutes remaining in the first period. With a good screen in front, Josh Jooris fired a shot in on net that Crawford kicked aside, but Paul Byron was right there to clean up the rebound and flip it into the empty cage for the power play tally to bring the Flames to within a goal at 2-1.
Less than a minute later, the Flames were on another power play thanks to Niklas Hjalmarsson, and they made Chicago pay again to tie things up. This time, it was Dennis Wideman doing the honors, taking advantage of a fly-by screen in front of Crawford and burying the shot to tie things up at 2-2 with a little over five minutes remaining in the first period.
Jonathan Toews found himself in the penalty box late in the first period, but even with the Flames’ power play carrying over into the second stanza, they weren’t able to seize the lead on home ice.
Both teams struggled for control of the tempo of the game as the period wore on, but just after the halfway mark it was the Hawks who got the goal to take the lead back. Kane feathered a pass across the zone to Kris Versteeg, but the winger’s shot was barely knocked away by Hiller’s skate. Undeterred, Kane got the puck back and whipped another pass across the ice to Seabrook, who buried a shot top shelf to make it a 3-2 game in favor of the Blackhawks.
The Hawks’ lead was short-lived, as the Flames tied things up just a minute and a half later. Curtis Glencross brought the puck into the zone, and drew the attention of both Duncan Keith and Brad Richards. That left Alex Monahan all alone in front, and when he received the pass he didn’t miss as he tied the game at 3-3.
Michal Rozsival committed an offensive zone penalty just 40 seconds after the Monahan goal, but this time the Hawks’ penalty kill was once again stout as they kept the Flames off the board.
They were tested again late in the period when Johnny Oduya shot a puck over the glass with less than two minutes remaining, but Calgary ended that power play abruptly with about 12 seconds to go in the period when Jiri Hudler was sent off for tripping.
The Blackhawks weren’t able to score on the power play, but neither team looked particularly potent with the puck. In fact, the first six minutes of the period saw the two teams combine for just three shots on goal, and the game remained deadlocked as a result.
Near the halfway mark however, all it took was one solid individual play by Kane to turn things around for the Hawks. Hiller tried to clear the puck out toward the boards, but Kane stole the pass, deked around three Flames skaters, and muscled a shot through the goaltender’s pads and into the cage to give Chicago a 4-3 lead with a little less than 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Over the final minutes, the Flames did get a power play as Hjalmarsson was sent off for the second time in the game, but they couldn’t get anything past Crawford. The Hawks’ goaltender made two more big saves in the closing moments, robbing a Jooris deflection from in close and gloving a Wideman shot from the point with 10 seconds remaining. The Hawks were able to contain the puck along the boards for the remainder of regulation, and Chicago came out with a hard-fought victory.
The Blackhawks will look to go two-for-two on the road trip when they head to Edmonton on Saturday night to take on the Oilers.